Lame jokes and bad haircuts can induce a full-body cringe, but you wouldn’t burn family photos.
Lately I’ve been mulling this profound, existential question, as essentially human as asking why we’re really here anyway – that is, should I delete all my old tweets or nah? I’ve noticed more people selecting this option (you can even create self-destructing tweets). But if a social feed is an imperfect chronicle of one’s moments, then is deleting them as tragic as deleting other personal histories? Is it like burning family photos, or grandad’s unfinished memoir?
I have some experience of deletion. Years ago, I wrote a comic blog documenting my adventures as a young woman from a conservative Asian background discovering sex, partying, feminism and the joys of Wimpy. I deleted it when my journalism career moved on from editing obscure trade magazines about drill bits, because I was concerned what future employers might say about my essays on bad shags, dodgy raves, or the daft photos I’d take of a former, misogynistic boss through a fork, so it looked as if he was in jail.
At least twice a year, a friend will ask me about that blog and there’s a twinge in my heart, a pang of regret for deleting it. I still wonder if I made the right decision.
For clarity, I’m not worried about having said something phobic. (Stupid, yes! Hateful, not so much.) But I wonder if it’s possible to put one’s best foot forward in the digital age. Because if we’re all works in progress, it stands to reason this present version of ourselves is the best one so far. Does it make sense to delete the inferior ones?
Mind you, an empty social feed does look suspicious. Maybe the answer is dive into my accounts and delete anything incriminating, but the thought of wading through years of lame jokes and bad haircuts induces a full-body cringe. I hope, if my posts are resurrected, it’ll be by people who believe in second chances.